On Wednesday night, Philando Castile died when a Minnesota police officer discharged a gun into a car that also held a young child. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, hit “record” and uploaded the footage for the world to witness. The very sight of Castile fighting for his life sparked protests and further stoked a fire that began to rage when Alton Sterling’s wife made an emotional call for justice after her husband’s death.
These two events in such rapid succession illuminate a problem that’s long existed but appears to be reaching a fever pitch. In response, the public is alternating between outrage and borderline assumption making. Some outlets like NBC are digging up traffic records on Castile, which has prompted social media to question the relevance of such a finding. This led the network’s Tony Piptone to reason, “The point possibly being blacks in that part of MN are harassed on minor traffic charges by police, a la Ferguson.”
Elsewhere, CNN’s Brian Stelter has been criticized for using an ellipsis while pointing out that Reynolds’ first move during the shooting was to broadcast footage. Yet Stelter’s latest retweets showed that he understood (despite his choice of somewhat shady punctuation) that Reynolds simply had the presence of mind to know she needed evidence. And on Thursday, Reynolds spoke to reporters and confirmed this rationale:
“I wanted everyone in the world to know how much [the police] tamper with evidence and how much they manipulate our minds. I wanted it to go viral so that people could determine themselves as to what was right and what was wrong. Police are not here to protect and serve us. They are here to assassinate us.
“He killed him for no reason. He was never a bad man. He was the quietest, most laid-back person. Nothing in his body language said ‘intimidation.’ Nothing in his body language said ‘shoot me.’ Nothing in his body language said ‘kill me.’ It’s not OK. A good man, a 35-year-old man who had never been fingerprinted, never been handcuffed. He has been taken away from his community.”
Reynolds’ description of Castile’s quiet nature was echoed by his relatives, who earlier expressed disgust at how police are often not indicted in these situations. Reynolds also revealed that she was in police custody until 5 a.m. this morning, and she learned of Castile’s death hours after the fact. Unfortunately, the police transported her to the wrong hospital, so she “never got to say my last words to that man.” You can watch Reynolds’ emotional second video below.